The Top Five Fast Food Franchises of 2017

Are you looking to start a fast food restaurant franchise? There are several fast food restaurants that have expanded over the past few years and should continue to grow over the next year. With fresher food choices, technological advances like the use of kiosks and pre-ordering apps, and comfortable seating in the restaurants, the fast food market is looking more convenient than ever.

Here are the top five fast food franchises of 2017 based on growth, affordability and predicted future success.

1. Subway

Subway is the fastest growing franchise this year. Subway began in 1965 when college student Fred DeLuca borrowed $1,000 from friend Peter Buck and opened a sandwich shop called Pete’s Submarines hoping to earn enough money for medical school. The Bridgeport, Connecticut restaurant sold submarine sandwiches and salads, a healthy alternative in fast food. The sandwich shop was a success and renamed Subway and franchised. The company that oversees Subway is Doctor’s Association, Inc. in honor of Fred DeLuca’s initial goal.

Today Subway is the fastest growing fast food restaurant in the world. There are 45,000 stores in 100 countries with half in the United States. The company is called Subway IP, Inc. and oversees management of the restaurants. Last year Subway revamped its shops with a “Fresh Forward” campaign. Subway only uses fresh ingredients with no artificial preservatives or colors. The bread is now available free of gluten. The cost to open a Subway franchise is reasonable at $116,000.

2. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950 by William Rosenberg in Canton, Massachusetts (a part of greater Boston). The coffee and donut shop soon expanded. In 1963 Rossenberg’s 25 year old son became CEO and the 100th Dunkin’ Donuts opened. In 1990 the chain went through a major expansion and by 1998 there were 2,500 locations.

Dunkin’ Donuts continued to grow. In 2006 the company began its “America Runs On Dunkin” campaign and 2010 saw $6 billion in sales. In the past few years the company has adopted an app for payment and established a loyalty plan to compete with other coffee based fast food restaurants. The chain serves donuts, bagels, baked goods, sandwiches and hot and iced beverages. The start up cost to own a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise is between $229,000 and $1.5 million.

3. Jack In The Box

Jack in the Box is a west coast staple that has expanded nationwide in recent year. The company pushed national growth from 2005 to 2010 and now has 2,100 franchises in California, Texas and 15 other states. Jack in the Box was founded by Robert O. Peterson in San Diego, California inn 1951. Peterson opened a drive in restaurant, Topsy’s Drive In in 1941 and expanded it over the next decade. The first Jack In the Box had the first two-way intercom system. The restaurant served American fare including burgers, fries, sodas and shakes. The restaurant has since expanded its menu to include items like tacos, egg rolls and breakfast items.

Jack in the Box began franchising in 1982. The restaurant has followed recent trends in its menu and in its restaurants. The past decade has seen major United States growth. It costs between $1.3 and 2.4 million to start a Jack in the Box franchise. The franchise is pushing to expand nationwide.

4. Taco Bell

Specializing in Tex-Mex fast food, the first Taco Bell was opened in 1962 in Irvine, California by Glen Bell. Bell started a hot dog drive in in 1946 at the age of 23. He expanded his restaurants to burger and taco fast food. Bell began franchising Taco Bell in 1964 in California. Taco Bell was bought by Pepsi Co. in 1978. Today there are 7000 franchises throughout the United States serving 2 billion customers.

The start up cost for a Taco Bell franchise is between $1.2 and 2.6 million. Currently 80 percent of Taco Bells are under independent franchisers. Taco Bell has recently remodeled its restaurants for a more comfortable dining experience. It is likely that Taco Bell will continue to expand with more franchises.

5. Papa Johns

Papa Johns is the third largest pizza delivery restaurant in the United States. The company was founded by John Schnatter in 1986. He sold his camera for $1,600 to buy pizza making equipment and sold pizzas out of the broom closet of his dad’s Tavern. Within a year Schnatter was able to buy the adjacent building to establish his pizza restaurant and delivery service. Over the past 2 decades Papa Johns has expanded throughout the world. The pizza is known for its fresh ingredients and its dipping sauces.

There are currently 4,700 Papa Johns restaurants around the world with 3,500 in the United States. The headquarters are located in Jeffersontown, Kentucky just outside of Louisville. Papa Johns has seen a lot of growth in the past few years and should continue to grow with plenty of opportunities to buy franchises. The current start up price for an independent franchise is between $129,900 and $844,200.


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